Student Profile: Robert Lutener. Filmmaker, Musician and Activist.

Student Profile: Robert Lutener. Filmmaker, Musician and Activist.

By: Jamal Saad
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A few days before I transitioned from Vancouver to Montreal, I got the opportunity to meet 4th year political science Robert Lutener. On most days, Robert can be spotted at SFU Burnaby campus’ Highland Pub discussing university politics. However, what made me choose Mr. Lutener as an interview subject was the success that his recent documentary Up North: Conversations on the Impacts of Change has generated.

Q: So, Robert, what made you so interested in advocating specifically for causes relating to climate change?

A: We’re not advocating for causes of climate change per se. The film is about letting the people in the northern territories of Canada narrate their own stories about how their communities are being affected by all types of change-linguistic, cultural, economic, political and environmental.

So it started off as an environmental piece. Then we realized that it was a culture piece. And we were happy with that- allowing the people to tell their own stories. We put away our own biases and let the people put in their own biases.

Q: And who’s we?

A: Our team consists of:

-Robert Lutener, Production Manager and Fixer.

-Drew McIntosh, Director and Project-head.

-Aaron Bocanga, Cinematographer.

Q: Who financed Up North: Conversations on the Impacts of Change?

A: The film was entirely self-financed. That includes trips, cameras, food, screening and distribution. To date, it has cost over $15,000 excluding man hours and volunteers who have helped with transcribing and tuition support.

Q: Where can SFU students see the entire film?

A: We’re trying to get the money together to send to SFU, because we feel like universities and educational centers would be most interested and would benefit the most from screening it.

Right now people cannot access a DVD version of Up North: Conversations on the Impacts of Change. We kicked off a Western Canada screening tour from SFU’s Vancouver campus at Harbor Center, all the way to Lethbridge, Edmonton and Calgary.

More news and updates are available at or the film’s Twitter page.

Q: So, Rob, you also happen to be the lead vocalist and guitarist of a band?

A: Yes, it is called AKA747s. Note that it is not called The Ak747s, but simply AK747s because we do not want to identify ourselves as one of these ‘the’ bands. We play our shows in Vancouver local venues. Our upcoming shows include Friday, October 1st at New Brandiz and Friday, November 19th at Pat’s Pub.

Q: How would you describe your genre of music?

A: It is definitely fast. We are taking the acoustic to a stack. We’ve got a violin player and we also have the keyboard player play aggressively fast music that we think is ‘creepily poppy’.

Q: Now apart from being a filmmaker and a musician, you also appear to be a very engaged SFU student?

A: I became president of the Political Science Student Union when it had been defunct for two years. So basically, we resurrected it. I was fulfilling leadership, but you still need your buddies. We put on debates and founded an undergraduate political science journal.

In addition, I was on the senate committee for international activities, and I also put on a food and clothing drive when I first got to SFU. We had about 250 pounds of clothing for people less fortunate in our communities.

Q: And what will be your plans for the forthcoming (Fall) semester?

A: This will actually be my last semester at SFU. So I expect to be graduating in spring. I will be applying for law school so I am currently studying for the LSAT. I have been going to SFU and volunteering for three years straight, so I will definitely need to make some money before I can commit to any other projects.

I am sure someone as dedicated and enthusiastic as Robert Lutener will have no trouble in finding the job that best suits his varied experiences.

By Jamal Saad.

Posted on September 24, 2010